There are many great things we can learn from our ancestors. As we learn about them we also learn lessons that are important to us in our lives.
We learn from our ancestors that family matters, education is important, and change can happen in life so we need to learn to deal with it. We also learn that people only know your story if you write it down and that our family traditions are important. We also learn from our ancestors about compassion, love, and gratitude.
One of the ways we discover more about our ancestors is when we do our own genealogy and family history work. To find out more about the difference between genealogy, family history, and ancestry you can read our blog on The Difference Between Genealogy, Family History, and Ancestry by clicking here.
My ancestors have taught me that family matters. We are all born into a family and others get adopted into a family, but no matter what your circumstance in life, your family does matter.
I have a great grandfather, Lewis Bookwalter. Grandpa Lewis was a scholar, President of a College, and also a professor of ancient languages. He also loved history, so he left with a legacy of part of our family history. He wrote about our family in a paper called “History of my family on my mother’s side.”
In this paper, he spoke about some of the memories that his mother had about her family. Memories that go back several generations. I learned from Great Grandfather Lewis, that family does matter and that discovering family members who have gone before us is important. Sometimes that gift you can give others is to show them they are important and not forgotten.
I grew up in a home where the question was never if you were going to college but the question was always where will you go to college? How many degrees will you get?
My grandfather and his twin brother lost their mother and father at a young age. They went to live with an aunt and she died when they were both 15 years old. But this did not stop them from getting a good education.
In his personal history, my grandfather speaks of how he worked his way through the University of Chicago working long hard hours. Both he and his brother obtained their bachelor’s and master’s degrees and my grandfather eventually received a Ph.D.
My grandfather taught me that education was important. That you are never too old or too young to work to get a good education.
Change Happens, So Live With It
I have a great grandfather James Johnston that was a Baron in Scotland in the mid 18th century. His family had money and a castle in Scotland. He was the youngest of three sons.
One day his father, uncle, and his two older brothers went to a very important meeting. On their way home from the meeting they were captured and beheaded.
My great grandfather James Johnston had a prize put on his head and was only able to escape the fate of his father and brothers because he was away hunting during the time they had the meeting.
Here he was a nobleman who had lost everything. His castle, land, and livelihood. But this did not stop him. He eventually married, moved to England, and took up the trade of becoming a jeweler. He became quite a successful jeweler in London.
I learned from him that change can happen and when it does it is good if we can go with the change and learn from it. That we should not allow change to paralyze or define our lives.
People Only Know Your Story If You Write It Down
Any historian or anyone interested in history will tell you that people only know your story if you take the time to actually write it down. History is about the story and the lives of those who have gone before us and more importantly those who left a record. Those ancestors we know or remember are many times are those who left us a written or photographic legacy.
We learn from our ancestors that writing down our own stories does matter. And reading and understanding the stories our ancestors left is also important.
Family Traditions Matter
I feel blessed to have grown up in a house where traditions mattered. My mother is from Stockholm, Sweden and so our house is filled with Swedish traditions.
Each Christmas you can find us dancing around the Christmas tree, singing all the Swedish Christmas songs. In fact, I think I may know the words for many of the Swedish Christmas songs better than the English Christmas songs.
We can learn from our ancestors about traditions. And when we celebrate these traditions, not only do we honor them but we begin to understand them and their lives.
We Learn Compassion
We can learn compassion from our ancestors. As discover more about their lives, through doing our family history research, we may discover things that are not always pleasant or nice.
A grandmother who was maybe raped so she gave us a daughter and moved to the big city. Another relative that was in trouble with the law.
As we learn the good and the bad about our family, we understand that they are human and had human flaws. I know as I discover the human side of my ancestors I feel great compassion for them. I understand that like me, they were human.
We Feel Love And Gratitude
As we learn about our ancestor’s lives we feel love and gratitude for them. We only really love people we get to know and the same is our ancestors. To feel love for them we need to get to know about them and understand their lives.
We also only feel gratitude for people if we know what they have done for us. It is the same with our ancestors, we will only really feel the gratitude if we understand the sacrifices they made for us so that our lives could be better than their own.
I am thankful for all those who have gone before me and sacrificed so that I could have a better life and have the opportunities that I now have. As you learn about your ancestors you begin to learn and understand more about the love they had for you and gratitude for their sacrifices.
These points are not meant in anyway to be conclusive. As each of us when we start the journey to discover about the lives of our own ancestors will learn and discover different things. The main thing is that we work to start that journey and to get them know our ancestors and their lives.
Why Is Knowing Your Ancestor’s Homeland Is Important?
Research about your ancestor’s homeland is an essential part of any genealogical travel. It is important you do your research on your ancestor’s hometown before your travel to that location. If you are not sure where to start to look, consider getting a DNA test.
You can discover more by reading Genealogy Travel: Why Knowing Your Ancestor’s Homeland Is Important by clicking here.
How Can I Travel to Discover my Family Tree and Family Roots?
We can learn a lot about ourselves and our family roots when we travel and meet family members in faraway lands and places. We can learn from them about the lives of our ancestors who have gone before us. Knowing our family roots can give us a sense of belonging. When we get to know the stories of our ancestors it can inspire our lives.
You can learn more by reading our blog Traveling to Discover Your Family Tree and Your Roots by clicking here.